Future Image Fiction

Future Image Fiction is a week-long thought piece looking at present signals in beauty and self-image, and projecting four extreme future scenarios as basis for brainstorming.

Thought piece in collaboration with Remy Jauffret, Brandon Ly, Seb Park, 2019

What are the emerging contours of
behavior in beauty and self-image?

Extrapolating Signals Today

Design is inherently about the future. By extrapolating signals from things, events, key moments that happen today, we can start to depict possible futures that’ll shape our actions. Below are four extreme future directions reveals by present signals.

1. Quantifiable Augmentation

Beauty is a privilege to strive for. It can be measured and made. Augmentation is expected and common. Data transparency means anyone can effectively be scored to a standard.  

Present signals: reshape your face for the right date, interfacing with your brain, China’s big data attraction, the future of fragrance formulations, open-source AI for good, Alexa knows what’s good for you, truth in vitamin injections, haunted AI selfies.

2. Authentic Rejection

In a world dominated by appearances, there’s constant pursuit of the “real.’
Data is sacred and private, so beauty is up to my interpretation but innate — the things that make one unique and special come from within.

Present signals: pageantry reject makeup, rise of makeup removal vids, reconnect with elderly, fighting for the right to look morbid, China’s millennial backlash, perfect imperfection for Beyonce of China, end of hair discrimination, 2D worlds provide new depth for youth.

3. Radical Self-Reliance

In an environment where resources become scarce and existing conventions are increasingly challenged, there’s a hunger to surmount this swelling sense of resignation. While optimism for what’s possible has been worn down, human ingenuity has helped unearth creative ways to find meaning in the desolate. 

Present signals: waterless beauty in cosmetic scarcity, consumer fatigue by repetitive influencers, forbidding buddha-like lifestyle, stay-at-home beauty, marriage a cliché for Chinese youth, personal postcode for delivery, young Chinese embrace a “slash” career, little fresh meat and changing masculinity in China.

4. Collective Definition

As prosperity flourishes, there’s a quiet desire to want to feel like one is taking part in the rising tide. In the face of the swirling ambiguity of a fast-approaching future, traditions and norms serve as a north star — fixtures that are adopted or invented out of this longing for belonging.

Present signals: Faking street photography, Gen Z spending all for luxury, China’s youth obsess with power of appearances, men and notions of gender role shifts, future of fitness is together but alone, caught looking real while vlogging, can money buy love, rise of 996.

How might they create windows into possible futures in the world of self-image?

Extreme 1: Consensus Code

#enforcednorms, #beautyscore, #monoculture

All aspects of beauty have become quantified— data points within an inescapable, foundational social score. Enhancements are routine and expected, as we continuously calibrate toward an exalted standard to materially improve our lot in life. 

Extreme 2: Digital Deification

#transhumanism, #buddhayouth, #standingoutatanycost

In a sea of modern desolation, cultivated online personas emerge as a means to escape and start over. Digital artists are the beauticians that unlock multiple lives and radical self-expression, as we take more and more drastic measures to feel seen.

Extreme 3: Tribal Totality

#findyourtribe, #cultureclash, #bodydiversity

Your affiliations are now your key, as the notions of belonging overshadow appearance alone. As tribes proliferate into a broadening aperture of sensibilities, “putting on your face” means navigating a milieu of semantics and semiotics for the occasion at hand. 

Extreme 4: DIY Dissent

#innerpeace, #holistichealth, #unplugged

To escape an overwhelmingly staged world, mindfulness and naturism now define true beauty as coming from within. In balancing both advancements and ancient wisdom, AI and astrology live in harmony to supplement, heal, nurture, and revitalize towards this ideal. 

Index ︎